Pest Alert – Shothole Disease on Cherries

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shothole fungus cherry shothole fungus cherry

Each year we get questions about holes in the leaves of flowering cherries and cherry laurel. Concerned gardeners find the holes and wonder if an insect is eating their plants. The cause is shot hole disease. Although the holes can make the plants look less than ideal, luckily the disease is harmless to the tree.

The cause of shot hole disease is thought to be a combination of a bacterium and a fungus. This affects plants in the Prunus family including cherries, peaches, plums, cherry laurels, apricots, and nectarines. The holes in the leaves are caused by the leaf spots drying up and falling out. It kind of looks like someone shot the plant with a shotgun.

The good news is that this disease is not harmful to plants. So, there is no need to expose yourself to fungicides. Reducing pesticide use is good for the environment.

If you must use a pesticides, spray appropriate fungicides as soon as new leaves emerge in spring. Continue spraying every 7-10 days until the leaves are fully expanded. Young tender leaves in early spring are the most vulnerable and should be the target of pesticide applications. Fungicides will not get rid of holes in older leaves.

cherry laurel too close to house and over sheared for height

These cherry laurel shrubs are too close to house. They also are too tall for the area. The plants are heavily pruned and over sheared to maintain them at the right height. The plants are stressed and more susceptible to fungal infections. These plants are infested with shot hole fungus disease.